It seems that Australia’s obesity epidemic is now impacting our best mates, dogs. A new survey by Guide Dogs Australia looked at the habits of 1000 Australian dog owners revealed that 1 in 10 pet dogs are not being walked at all. If that seems low, 25 per cent of the dog owners said they only hit the pavement with their dogs once a week, if at all. With an estimated 4.7 million pet dogs in Australia, the findings suggest that 3.15 million are not being walked daily.
Funnily enough, the reasons why we aren’t walking our dogs are extremely aligned with our own excuses for avoiding exercise. Surveyed dog owners blame lack of time as the biggest factor preventing them from walking their dog more often, followed by weather conditions.
And we hear you, this is Men’s Health, not Dog’s Health. However as it turns out, according to Guide Dogs Australia, a lack of exercise in dogs has the same negative physiological effects on dogs as it does on us, including weight gain, frustration, mental health deterioration, and muscle wastage. The finding have lead the organisation to launch 'Pawgust', a month-long campaign kicking off this August that is encouraging Australians to challenge themselves to walk their dog for 30 minutes every day for 30 days throughout the month, In an effort to boost both our own health and the health of man’s best friend.
“A dog that isn’t walked regularly can demonstrate frustrated, destructive, anti-social behaviours and is also more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases and soft muscles, as well as gain weight. In fact, Australia is the world leader in dog obesity,” explains Pawgust Veterinary Ambassador, Professor Paul McGreevy, in a statement that could similarly relate to the health of Aussie humans.
If getting your dog fit isn’t incentive enough, spending time with your dog is scientifically proven to be beneficial to you’re your own health. BMC psychiatry has recently presented a report that identifies there are profound mental health benefits to pet ownership.
The study highlighted the therapeutic benefits provided by pets to their owners, supporting previous research into the health benefits of having an animal to look after.
"Our review suggests that pets provide benefits to those with mental health conditions,” said Dr Helen Brooks of the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Science. In her initial research, Dr. Brooks and her team have identified that some of the health benefits associated with pet ownership include increased exercise, companionship, increased social life, reduced anxiety and providing sensory stress relief (even having a fish in the house can assist in mental health management, particularly in crisis management).
30 days of doggos? Sign us up now!